UPDATED FOR SDCC 2017
I always set aside a day of Comic Con devoted to acquiring autographs. I think it’s really fun to momentarily hang out with people from my favorite shows and briefly talk about the show. Then after, I walk away with something substantial to take home to remember the event by.
If you don’t want to read all the gritty details here’s a quick summary:
- At your first opportunity go to the booth of the studio you’re interested in and ask for a signing schedule.
- Line up in the general line as early as you’re willing to that morning.
- When they open doors, go quickly to the next line (either Sails Pavilion or Exhibit Hall)
- Wait more (make friends with those around you, I promise it could help)
- Stick your hand in and draw out what is hopefully a winning ticket.
- If you didn’t draw out, try to rejoin the line and see if you can redraw.
- Find out BEFORE YOU LEAVE when and where you need to be for the signing.
- If they don’t know ask the Autograph booth in the middle of the Sails Pavilion (but good luck, they often know less than you so YMMV).
- Arrive back at the location and time designated.
- Bring your camera, but don’t have an expectation that you can use it.
- Win SDCC
Here’s the dirt and grit I glossed over above:
If you’re confused about how the autograph system at San Diego Comic Con works, you’ve just joined a fun and somewhat obnoxious club. Every studio does it a little different. Independent artists will often have booths up in the Sails Pavilion, but those aren’t the autographs I’m talking about today. I’m talking about WB, FOX, Marvel. Those are the big guys anyway.
Signings usually work by a drawing. You have to go stick your hand in a bag of tickets and draw out a special one that indicates you’ve won and get to participate. The time when the drawing is usually when the Sails Pavilion opens. Except Marvel is a bit different, they do everything at their own booth including the drawings. So those will usually happen when the exhibit hall opens.
The best way to find out which specific shows are doing signings is to show up at the studio booth and ask for a signing schedule. They’ll give you a sheet that will have the info you need. You’ll now know which day you need to line up and where the drawing is. You can opt to camp-out really early, or I’ve also been successful getting autographs by getting in line right at 7am. That’s the beauty of a lottery style giveaway. It’s scarier though. For the more popular shows (Game of Thrones) you’ll need to camp out. This year (2014) I got in line at 3:45am and before I got to the front to draw, Game of Thrones was gone. But there were PLENTY of wristbands left for all the other shows.
Make friends with people around you. There are scenarios (like Game of Thrones) where the people around you are in line for the more popular shows. If those cap out before you get to the front, often these people (your new friends) are willing to draw out for you if you fail to draw. Especially if you offer a cash incentive if they draw out and you don’t for a show they don’t care about.
If you’re in line early enough and fail to draw out or if you want two signings that day, move quickly to the end of the autograph line and you may have a chance to redraw. Every year I’ve gone for autographs, I’ve ended up with 2-3 signings that I can get to. It CAN get tricky though if their signing times overlap.
2017 UPDATE – This method is getting much harder. I wouldn’t count on this working anymore.
You do want to check with the people running the drawing where and when to be to do the actual signing. They will know for sure and the people at the Autograph kiosk may NOT know. Or will take them 20 minutes to find out.
At autograph time, make sure you have your camera. You knew that already, but you may not know that depending on the studio, they may or may not allow you to take photos. Be respectful, but prepared. Marvel was cool with photos enough so that their staff would take a photo of you and the celeb. The WB would not allow photos after a certain line, but you could get them from the crowd outside the booth.
Whatever you do, this is likely going to be one of your funnest memories at San Diego Comic Con. None of the other conventions that I attend offers free autographs and certainly not with large numbers of celebs from the show all while providing you a cool poster. SDCC Win.
I certainly didn’t have time to talk about every little detail. If you have specific questions, comment or email us and I’ll elaborate on your question.
Here’s the 100 Signing Gallery: